A lot of people told Yelena Falk that she should give up on finding her family’s lost dog, Moey. But the Falks’ sad story has an improbably happy ending, thanks to persistence, hope, some vigilant New Yorkers and a little bit of good luck.
Moey, a fluffy white mixed breed of poodle, Bichon Frise and shih tzu, was snatched off the street on June 25 when he was briefly tied to a fence on a walk. The Falks went to the police, to the media (including this paper, which featured the Falks in a feature about pet theft, “For Dog Owners, an Urban Fear Returns,” July 10, 2014) and to everyone who would listen, searching for Moey. Their son Ethan was devastated. Yelena plastered Manhattan with posters seeking any information on Moey’s whereabouts and offering a $1,000 reward, no questions asked.
Yelena said that well-meaning friends gently suggested her family accept that Moey wasn’t coming back, if for no other reason than to ease their sadness. Then last weekend, a woman named Kimberly from Flushing, Queens called the Falks’ home number and left a message, saying she had found their dog.
Yelena was supposed to be upstate on vacation, but had rushed to Harlem the night before when she got another tip about a dog who looked like Moey (she was used to wild goose chases and scams, but followed up on every tip anyway, just in case) that turned out to be fruitless. Then she got the call from Kimberly.
“I totally freaked out because all the posters have our cell number,” she said; she knew that anyone calling their home phone could only have gotten the number from Moey’s tags. She waited for Kimberly to text her a photo, and was shocked at what she saw. “Not only does it look like my dog in the photograph, but he’s got the same leash as when he was stolen.”
Kimberly told Yelena that Moey had been in the care of a neighbor, an older woman who appeared mentally disturbed and left him tied up outside for hours at a time, which is what prompted her to call the number on his tag, thinking she was reaching the older woman as the rightful owner of Moey.
Yelena tried to enlist the help of the police in retrieving Moey, but ultimately decided to try getting him back on her own after they dragged their feet. When she arrived at the address Kimberly had given her, prepared to call 911 if there was a confrontation, she was surprised again to find Moey tied up outside, alone.
“Never in my mind did I expect that when we drive up there that Moey was going to be tied up outside,” Yelena said. “We drive up, I see a little white shape tied up outside this apartment building. I dashed out, I couldn’t even untie the leash at first, my hands were shaking.”
Moey is reportedly in good health, in need of grooming and a bath and a little bit skittish, but otherwise fine. The Falks are overjoyed to have their furry family member back. And the ordeal resulted in another addition to the family.
“While I was searching for Moey last week, I answered a Craigslist ad last week because it sounded like an ad for a stolen dog that could have been Moey,” Yelena said. “We went out to the Bronx to look at the dog, and he wasn’t Moey, but we adopted him. So now we have Dougie and Moey.”
The Falks hope that their story will remind other dog owners to remain vigilant and not leave their pets alone outside. Yelena said that she doesn’t plan on pursuing the woman who may have taken Moey and would rather focus on the happy times ahead.
“Honestly, people were telling me to give up hope, that I’m taking it too far looking for the dog, that I should just chill – well we didn’t,” Yelena said with a laugh. “We did everything we could. Not that any of that was what led him to us, but I feel like sooner or later, it would have.”